Pakistan stands at an all too familiar crossroads. Once again, the way we navigate the current political and economic turbulence will set the course of our nation’s future. The causes of our perennial crises are multifaceted, but it’s the specter of repeated failure—played out on the streets and screens—that reveals the inherent inadequacy of the political system.
The discontent among the younger generation, comprising over 64% of the population below the age of 30, is palpable. Disconnected from a political landscape dominated by dynastic families and seasoned politicians, they are clamoring for their voices to be heard. The old belief that wisdom comes with age seems misplaced in Pakistan, as the generation of old men who govern now appears disconnected, frustratingly inept, and lacking the vitality to meet the challenges the country faces.
One pressing concern is the average age of our parliamentarians. This discrepancy between the rulers and the ruled leads to a lack of understanding and empathy for the younger generation. The era in which these politicians grew up is fundamentally disconnected from the times we live in. Calls for a quota for politicians under 40, or an upper age limit for those in power, are resonating among the youth.
Our younger citizens are tired of the machinations and deal-making of the establishment power brokers—the generals, bureaucrats, judges and old politicians. They need representation. They yearn for a chance to challenge the status quo, just as the likes of Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did. It is this very spirit that is seen as a glimmer of hope in leaders like Bilawal Bhutto.
The political dinosaurs must make way for fresh blood that can relate to the voters’ issues and understand the challenges of our times. Parties must reflect this change and pave the way for new, untainted leadership. The youth wants freedom of movement, economic and physical. They want opportunities for economic mobility and a chance to engage with the world.
But changes in the political sphere must not stop with age limits. A reassessment of the electoral system, possibly adopting proportional representation or ranked-choice voting, could offer fairer representation. This move might help shift politics from being personality-based to issue-based, thereby making political parties more responsive to the people’s needs.
Furthermore, the relationship between the civilian government and the military establishment needs reevaluation. A new compact must be formed, recognizing the military’s historical role and navigating the delicate transitions of power.
The younger generation’s collective call for action cannot go unanswered. In the face of rising societal and economic pressures, we must respond with bold reforms. The past experiences of those in power may have taught them how to cling to authority, but they have not equipped them with the empathy or innovation needed for the future.
In this time of change, even the possibility of a presidential system or other structural reforms should be on the table. The entire governance structure that promotes the tyranny of the old must be reconsidered. Entrepreneurship shouldn’t be stifled by conglomerates leveraging their old connections. The youth are demanding change globally, and it’s time for Pakistan to do the same.
In an age that demands action, agility, and fresh thinking, we cannot be governed by the stagnant ideas of yesteryears. We need a government of the young and for the young. If the “OK boomer” sentiment is picking up globally, it’s because the older generations have collectively managed to mess up the future for the youth.
Pakistan’s youth is organizing, and they must be heard. The issues of climate change, global economy, security, and wealth distribution must be agreed upon by those under 40. We can’t wait for a messiah. We need to take charge of our destiny, for the future of our country is in our hands.
The time for generational revolution has arrived. We cannot afford the insanity of repeating our mistakes and expecting a different outcome. Let’s not forget the lessons of the past as we shape our future. The collective IQ and academic achievements of the assemblies must rise. Anarchy would be better than governance by the ill-equipped.
Time and again, we find ourselves at a crossroads. But this time, let’s choose the path that leads to a prosperous Pakistan. Let’s finally channel the legitimate voice of the young generation. The elders have done their part. It’s time for new blood to take charge. The world population is shifting, and politics must evolve to reflect that change. Times are indeed changing, and it’s time for Pakistan to change with them.